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Dad served on Bloemfontein 1941-1942

October 5 2015 at 3:43 PM
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Linda  (Login LWDBZBee)

I am seeking information about the Bloemfontein and its relationship to the SS Penmar, if any. My dad's military records show he was on the Bloemfontein but also on the penmar. however, the only mention i can find of a ship named penmar is in the atlantic. i see that the bloemfontein sailed through the panama canal to norfolk, VA in april, 1942. I am wondering if my dad was reassigned from the blomefontein to the penmar at that time. the records do not contain enough info for me to figure that out. the penmar was torpedoed in the north atlantic on september 24, 1942. the survivors were rescued after about 3 days, arriving in iceland on october 2, 1942. His military medical records show him hospitalized at treasure island november 30, 1942. would the navy have shipped him back to the west coast for treatment because he was attached to the bloemfontein?

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S.S. PENNMAR and the US Navy Armed Guard

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October 6 2015, 8:24 PM 


We've had much discussion about the M.S. BLOEMFONTEIN on this forum - (scroll just a little further down).

It is likely that your dad joined her in San Francisco whilst she was undergoing conversion to a troopship (March/April 1942). He would have been part of her US Navy Armed Guard contingent and not part of her regular crew, which remained Dutch. The U.S. Navy Armed Guard was a service branch of the United States Navy that was responsible for defending U.S. and Allied merchant ships from attack by enemy aircraft, submarines and surface ships during World War II. The men of the Armed Guard served primarily as gunners, signal men and radio operators on cargo ships, tankers, troop ships and other merchant vessels.

BLOEMFONTEIN left San Francisco on 13 April 1942 on her 34th voyage, through the Panama Canal to Newport News VA. Your dad was probably then assigned to another ship, this being the S.S. PENNMAR bound for England. It was not uncommon for members of the US Navy Armed Guard to be reassigned to another vessel when the port of destination was reached or when circumstances required them elsewhere. There was no relationship between the BLOEMFONTEIN and the PENNMAR.

[linked image]

Home Port: New York, NY
Company: Calmar Steamship Corp. New York, NY
Master: Sigmond C. Krolikowski
Built: 1919 Kawasaki Dockyard Company Limited, Kobe, Japan
Dimensions: 385' x 51' x 26'
Gross Registered Tonnnage: 5868
Speed: 9 knots
Armament: 1 x 4”, 1 x 3’, 4 x 20mm, 4 x .50cal and 2 x .30cal

S.S. PENNMAR departed from Halifax, Nova Scotia with (slow) Convoy SC-100 on 12 September 1942 bound for Liverpool, England; laden with steel, food, trucks and general cargo. She straggled from the convoy due to steering gear problems. During early evening on September 23 in position 58°25N 32°15W, she was attacked by U-432 which fired a single torpedo at her. The torpedo was spotted and evaded after which her stern gun crew fired 4 x 4" rounds at the submarine. At 0144 on 24 September, the submarine again fired 4 torpedoes at her, of which one hit on the port side. The 8 officers, 31 crewmen and 22 Navy Armed Guard personnel abandoned ship in one lifeboat and two rafts while the ship was sinking rapidly; two crewmen dying in the process.

After spending 60 hours in the lifeboat and rafts, the survivors were picked up by the US Coast Guard Cutter BIBB (WPG 31) and taken to Reykjavik, arriving there on 2 October 1942.

Incidentally, five other ships from Convoy SC-100 were also sunk by U-Boats.

You asked: "Would the navy have shipped him back to the west coast for treatment because he was attached to the bloemfontein?" Well, you didn't say where he was from, but that he was hospitalised at Treasure Island, San Francisco on 30 November 1942. Naval Station Treasure Island was primarily a training school for electronics and radio communications at the time and it is my guess that he was not sent West for treatment but that he became sick or was injured while undergoing training. You do not indicate whether he again joined the BLOEMFONTEIN or any other ship. What do his records say - where did he go after leaving Treasure Island? And, what was his name?



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Melmoth the Wanderer
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October 6 2015, 8:45 PM 

...Yes, he might have been sent to the SF area--of course there were USN hospital facilities at Mare Island--in anticipation of sending him out to the Pacific again, I suppose.

The receiving station at SF was one of the busiest & most important in the war for USN personnel, and his name would surely come up in records there as well.



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(Login LWDBZBee)

just saw your response

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November 24 2015, 1:29 AM 

thank you so much for your quick response to my post. i had not seen a photo of the ship before, I really appreciate that as well! sorry i just now came across your reply.

my dad's name was Glenn Weldin. At the time i posed my question, i thought that dad had first been on the bloemfontein and then on the penmar. however, i have found in his military record the following:

Reported Aboard Jan 18, 1942 Armed Guard Center (Pacific) U.S. DES Base San Diego, Calif. Detached this date 2-9-1942 to the S.S. Penmar Reported this date 4-6-1942 from S.S. Penmar Detached duty completed. Detached this date 4-8-1942 to S.S. Bloemfontein Reported this date 11-17-1942 from S.S. Bloemfontein Detached duty completed. (Closed)

so from this apparently he was first on the penmar then on the bloemfontein.

then 11-30-42 he was admitted to the hospital. military records next show:

16 apr 43 Trans NavConvHosp, Santa Cruz, Calif.
21 May 43 Trans RS, San Fran, Calif.
24 May 43 Trans Armed Guard Center (Pacific)
26 May 43 Trans NH, T.I. San Fran, Calif.
5 Aug 43 Trans NavConvHosp, Santa Cruz, Calif.
25 Sep 43 Dis NavConvHosp, Santa Cruz, Calif. Good discharge, under honorable conditions

he apparently had rheumatic fever, either as a child or contracted during military service. his death from a heart attack at the age of 44 in 1965 was deemed to be connected to his military service.

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helen krolikowski mccue
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penmar captain krolikowski

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January 31 2016, 9:43 PM 

My father was the captain of the penmar when it was sunk in the atlantic. all records were destroyed. I was 6 years of age at the time. My father (as I recall) spoke very little of the sinking. He died in Sept. 1945 in Sydney harbor of a gas explosion on his ship while saving 2 men lives. so I cannot help you out on your father. I appreciate seeing the picture of my father's ship before it was sunk. HKM

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cirina catania
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I am working on a film about one of the Marines on the Bloemfontein

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March 12 2016, 2:23 AM 

Hello, I am working on a film about one of the Marines who was on the Bloemfontein from July 6 to August 3rd, 1942 - he most likely served with your Dad and might know more about him. I would love to speak with you! Please feel free to message me at news(at)catania(dot)us.

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(Login schnetzka)


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December 12 2016, 7:07 PM 

I am in possession of a document from 12th of December 1942 from the ship Bloemfontein if this is of any interest to you email me at a2hrselvr@comcast.net. It was a document from a deceased member of the family, a US Marine.

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