#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