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SS William B. Travis
Posted by Joe Burns on March 20, 2015, 9:40 am
My father's only brother, PVT. Martin Burns, was the only person killed when the SS William B.Travis was hit in the early morning hours, just after 1AM, 12 September 1943. My father showed me the War Department telegram the family received and I specifically remember 'torpedo or mine'. His body was not recovered until a year after the attack, as the ship was not able to get to a suitable dry dock that would allow entry into the hold under the Number 2 hatch that he was sleeping on when the ship was hit. He was an MP guarding prisoners at the time. The records I received stated that his remains were extraordinarly preserved by the fluids, oil, etc., even after a year in the hold.
After an exhaustive investigation by the officer in charge of his file, his body was positively identified, and he rests in the American Military cemetary in Tunisia.
I can't find any listings in the U Boat logs operating in the Mediterranean that survived past 12 September 1943.
Though this website lists cause of ship damage as 'torpedo', I'm inclined to believe it was a mine. Also, it would have likely been apparent to the U Boat commander that there was a single explosion that did not sink the ship and I can't fathom that he would allow it to limp back into port without another attempt to sink it. I would be grateful, if any readers have any U-Boat records that document this attack, as I would like to know the fate of the sub that allegedly attacked my uncle's ship.