Sturges, Jonathan Ford

Jonathan Ford Sturges
Born: June 19, 1919
Hometown: Fairfield, CT
Class: 1943
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Engine Cadet
Date / Place of death: September 24, 1942 /
North Atlantic 56-00 N, 31-00 W
Date / Place of burial: September 24, 1942 /
North Atlantic 56-00 N, 31-00 W – Lost at Sea
Age: 23

 

 

Jonathan F. Sturges signed on as Engine Cadet aboard the SS John Winthrop on
August 3, 1942 at Boston, shortly after the ship was completed and delivered to the
War Shipping Administration. After a voyage to the United Kingdom, the John
Winthrop, with its crew of 39 and fifteen Naval Armed Guard Sailors aboard sailed for
Liverpool to join Convoy ON-131. On September 18, 1942 the 61 ships of the convoy,
with 17 escorts, sailed into the stormy North Atlantic bound for New York.

By September 21, 1942 the John Winthrop was unable to keep up with the convoy and
became a straggler, the favorite prey of U-boats. For three days the John Winthrop
managed to evade detection. However, on the evening of September 24 the John
Winthrop’s luck ran out. The ship was detected, stalked and attacked by U-619 who hit
the ship with five torpedoes. According to German Naval records, the John Winthrop
broke into two pieces, which remained afloat. In order to finish the job, U-619 surfaced
and sunk the remnants of the SS John Winthrop with its deck gun. The SS Jonathan
Winthrop was the only ship of the more than sixty ships in Convoy ON-131 sunk.

Cadet-Midshipman Jonathan Sturges was posthumously awarded the Mariners Medal,
Combat bar with star, the Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal and the Presidential
Testimonial Letter. In addition, the Liberty Ship Jonathan Sturges was named in his
honor.

Jonathan F. Sturges was the only son and oldest child of Harold M. Sturges and Laura
Ford Sturges. Jonathan had two little sisters, Nancy and Priscilla. According to the
1930 and 1940 U.S. Census, Harold Sturges was an insurance salesman. At Roger
Ludlowe High School Jonathan was an officer of the Boys Home Economics Club, and
a member of the Public Health Club. According to his sister Priscilla, Jonathan came to
the sea early, including becoming a very active and involved member of the local Sea
Scout Ship. Priscilla believed that her brother was destined to pursue a seagoing
career that would be marked by professional achievement. She believed that,

“With his interest in the sea, Jonathan had found his ‘true self’ that was
the mainspring within him.”

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