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The Medford

 

Monday, October 22, 1945

Coast Guard Vessels, Navy Plane Search For Missing Fishermen
Men Lost When Army Transport Rammed trawler Medford
on Georges — Ten Survivors Picked Up

Coast Guard Vessels and a Navy plane began an intensive search today of the deep waters off Georges Bank for six greater Boston fishermen missing since early yesterday when their ship, the fishing trawler Medford, was rammed and sunk by the Europe-bound troopship Thomas H. Barry in a heavy fog 122 miles east of Nantucket lightship. Ten members of the Medford crew were rescued, one was killed, and the six missing are feared drowned. The transport, which was headed for France with 3230 Army, Red Cross and civilian passengers, was badly damaged in the collision and turned back for New York after picking up the 10 survivors.

The Barry’s skipper, Capt. Frank A. Erickson, notified the New York Port of Embarkation the transport was taking in water but expected to reach New York under its own power late this afternoon. There were no casualties aboard the troopship.

The beam trawler Medford, commanded by Capt. Gudmundur Johannsson, sailed from Boston, Saturday, October 13, bound for the fishing banks, and left Halifax, N. S., last Friday where she had gone for minor repairs. She was engaged in fishing on the southwestern edge of Georges bank yesterday morning, when she was sliced in half by a 17,000 ton Army transport Thomas H. Barry, which sailed form New York at 4.15 o’clock Saturday afternoon, bound for Le Harve, France with 3230 passengers, most of whom were occupation troops. The tragic accident occurred according to officials at the New York Port of Embarkation, at 10.39 o'clock yesterday morning in latitude 40.41 north, longitude 67,18 west, or some 150 miles east of New Bedford.

Details of the collision were lacking early today as investigation officers were waiting for the return of the Barry to New York to learn the complete story. Capt. Erickson of the Barry in answering a query from the Coast Guard concerning details yesterday, radioed "Action took place in for. Made search of area with two motorboats. Found no further survivors."

The bow of the Barry was considerably damaged by the impact and she will have to go into drydock for repairs. Her passengers included 94 Red Cross workers, 17 civilians and 3118 Army personnel besides a large crew. Capt. Erickson according to Navy officials, did not contact them until 1.17 o’clock when he said the weather had cleared and that their search for the missing men had been unsuccessful.

An extensive search by air and sea was ordered by the Navy, late yesterday afternoon, planes going from the Quonset Point Naval station, Rhode Island, while a Coast Guard cutter was also dispatched to aid the search. A PBY flying boat joined the searchers, with Ensign Frank Wright in command.

The Medford, was formerly the Holy Cross of the Francis J. O’Hara fleet of Boston, built at the Bath, Maine Iron Work, was one of the 25 beam trawlers taken by the Navy during the early days of the war for Atlantic Coast patrol in the anti-submarine warfare. She was returned to Boston last January and bought by Irving Usen of Usen-O’Donnell Co., the parent concern of the Mariners Fish company in this city. Mr. Usen renamed the vessel in honor of a city of Greater Boston as is his custom with his fleet of seven beam trawlers. The name Medford was chosen because the skipper hails from that city. The Medford was valued at $200,000. Her length was 114 feet and her gross tonnage 233 tons.

Only recently, the Medford resumed fishing out of Boston and after her first trip was tied up for more than a month because of a dispute with the Atlantic Fishermen’s union over stand-by pay for the crew. This was her second trip after the labor trouble was placed in the hands of the regional office of the War Labor Board at Boston, when WLB ruled that the Medford would have to sail before the trouble was considered by the WLB.

The Barry was formerly the SS Oriente, sister ship of the ill-fated Morro Castle, which was destroyed by fire off Asbury Park, N. J., on September 8, 1930, off Norfolk, Va., for the Ward Line, and the New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Co., for cruises between Havana and New York. The Army took her over in June of 1941. She is 508 feet long 70 feet, 9 inches beam, and her best speed is 18 knots.

Crew of the Medford

Dead

William Acher, 42, cook, Arlington

Missing

Lee Munroe, 43, mate, Watertown
Leonard Snow, 52, engineer, East Boston
Bjarni E. Kristjansson, 46, Arlington
John Einarsson, 36, Arlington
Richard Brenton, 50, Jamaica Plain
John B. Muise, 48, Lynn

Rescued

Gudmundur Johannsson, 40, skipper, Medford
Enos Amirault, 45, engineer, Malden
Leo Reardon, 60, South Boston
Andrew Veje, 49, East Boston
Andrew Munroe, 37, Watertown
Gunlauger Jonsson, 40, Boston
Frederick Mollenhauer, New York City
John Magnusson, 51, East Boston
William Allison, 46, Winthrop
Vincent P. LeBlanc, 35, Somerville

 

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