Tyne, Gordon A.

Gordon A. Tyne
Born: October 6, 1922
Hometown: Gloucester, MA
Class: 1943
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Deck Cadet
Date / Place of death: September 10, 1942 /
South Atlantic
Date / Place of burial: September 10, 1942 /
South Atlantic – Lost at Sea
Age: 19

 

 

Gordon A. Tyne signed on as Deck Cadet aboard the MS American Leader on April 13,
1942 at the port of New York. Joining him on the same day was Cadet-Midshipman
Joseph DiCicco, the Engine Cadet. Already aboard was Walter H. Lee, a 1940 U.S.
Merchant Marine Cadet Corps Cadet Officer. According to the account of Captain
George Duffy, then the ship’s Third Mate, the ship was carrying a general cargo of war
supplies including boots, barbed wire and vehicles along with a deck cargo of nine twin
engine bombers from New York to the Persian Gulf for Russia. The ship was also
loaded with several thousand tons of steel ingots for India. The American Leader was
armed with what a survivor characterized as an “ancient 4-inch cannon on our stern
plus four machine guns – two of which never fired one round without jamming.”

The ship arrived safely in the Persian Gulf, and loaded a partial cargo of rugs and
chemicals here before sailing for Columbo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to load a cargo of rubber
and latex. The American Leader headed alone down the coast of Africa to Cape Town,
South Africa. Upon arrival at Cape Town on September 7, 1942 the ship was ordered
to continue westward, without escort, toward the Straits of Magellan and the Pacific
Ocean.

At about 1930 on September 10th, the American Leader ran afoul of the German Navy
commerce raider, Michel, a converted merchant ship that had been operating in the
South Atlantic. The Michel, disguised as a neutral merchant ship, fired on the American
Leader, with deck guns and then launched two torpedoes. The Michel’s crew managed
to destroy two of the lifeboats as the crew attempted to launch them, forcing the crew to
abandon in life rafts. The American Leader sank in about 25 minutes, and ten crew
members, including Deck Cadet Gordon Tyne and Engine Cadet Joseph C. DiCicco, were killed in the attack and went down with the ship. The 39 crew members and nine Naval Armed Guard who survived the sinking were taken prisoner by the Michel.

The survivors, now prisoners of war, including the American Leader’s were handed over
to the Japanese in Batavia, Java (present day Djakarta, Indonesia) in November 1942.
In September 1944 several American Leader survivors, including Second Mate Walter
H. Lee, were killed in the sinking of the prisoner transport Junyo Maru when it was
torpedoed by HMS Tradewind. Other American Leader survivors were killed in the
sinking of the Japanese prisoner transport Tomahaku Maru. Of the 58 merchant
seamen and Naval Armed Guard on the American Leader, only 28 (including Captain
Duffy) eventually made it home. All of these had survived more than two years as
prisoners of war.

Cadet Gordon A. Tyne, the son of Everett E. and Mary Ambrose Tyne, was
posthumously awarded the Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Mediterranean-Middle East War
Zone Bar, the Combat Bar, the Mariners Medal, the Victory Medal, and the Presidential
Testimonial Letter.

Gordon A. Tyne was the youngest son of Everett E. Tyne and  Mary Ambrose Tyne’s two sons. According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Gordon’s father and older brother,
both named Everett, worked as printers. Gordon’s name is inscribed on the family grave marker in the Wesleyan Cemetery, Gloucester, MA.

Photo of MV American Leader

Photo of Gordon Tyne  Memorial, Gloucester, MA

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