#6 in a series
SM3c Frank L. Roales, Terre Haute, Indiana
By Frank E. Roales
Frank Loren Roales was born in Terre Haute Indiana, December 26th 1920 and
spent his entire life there. He was an avid golfer and placed runner-up in
the Indiana state junior championships, later he become an assistant pro at the
Terre Haute Country Club before moving on to Meridian Hills Country Club in
Indianapolis. He enlisted in the Navy on his 21st birthday (sn# 626 09 16) and took basic
training at U. S. N. T. S. Great Lakes Illinois. He attended naval training
school (Signal) at the University of Chicago. After graduation he was assigned to
the SS Thomas Nelson, a Liberty ship in the North Atlantic, on May 15th 1942
and then transferred to another Liberty ship, the SS John Cropper, on November
3rd 1942. While on the Cropper he was promoted from S1c to SM3c before being
sent to the Armed Guard School in New Orleans and then back to South
Brooklyn where he boarded a brand new Liberty Ship, the SS
James Oglethorpe, on March 2nd 1943. The Oglethorpe was the first ship constructed in Southeastern Ship Building Corp. shipyard at Savannah GA. She sailed as a part of convoy
HX-229 (#111) that left New York on March 8th 1943 bound for Liverpool. The
Oglethorpe was carrying general and military stores.
The Oglethorpe's first voyage was also her last. While traveling in station
#93 in the 42-ship convoy she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-758 at 18:47 hrs. March 16th
1943 This was at location 50.00 north x 36.00 west (400 miles SSE of Cape
Farvell Greenland). A torpedo struck the starboard side at the forward
section of the #2 hold. The vessel began settling by the head with her
rudder stuck and a starboard list. 44 of the crew of 8 officers, 36 men, 26
armed guards, and 4 passengers abandoned ship in 2 boats. The British
corvette HMS Pennywort (K-11) rescued the 30 men in boat #6 and later landed
them in Londonderry Ireland. It is believed that Frank remained on board
along with the master and the other 28 men who perished when the U-91 fired a coup
de grace shot on the 17th and sank her at location 50.38 north x 34.46 West.
All still on board were listed as "missing in action" and declared dead a
year and a day later as was the custom in those days.
Frank earned the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, American Defense Medal,
American Campaign Medal, European-African Middle East Medal, WWII Victory
Medal and the National Defense Service Metal. He is remembered by a family
marker along side his parents stone at Grandview Cemetery Terre Haute, Indiana and
on the Cambridge Wall of Honor at Cambridge shire England.
Frank was my Uncle on my father's side, and although I remember very little
about him because I was only 3 years old at the time of his death, I continue to be very proud of him. Researching his service to our country was an enlightening experience for this Air Force veteran of the 1960's "cold war". I just can't imagine the real cold war
that these men fought in the North Atlantic during winter runs. May you rest
in peace uncle.
E-mail feedback or questions to Paul Roales.You can return to Heroes: An Introduction HERE. All contents copyright 2010 by Frank E. Roales