SS Morrison R. Waite meets the Axis at Anzio and Philippines

Odlin - Maritime 62

 PR 2273 (W)


Advance Release for

Cleared and Released

Friday Afternoon Papers

 Through Facilities of the

May 18, 1945

 Office of War Information

Radio Release: 7 AM EWT, Friday, May 18  

German and Japanese flyers have paid with their lives in fruitless efforts to sink the Liberty ship Morrison R. Waite, the War Shipping Administration said today. Recently seven Jap planes attacked within six minutes, three were shot down and two were listed as “probables” in the gun crew log. Of the several hundred soldiers aboard, 16 were killed in the action.

The Morrison R. Waite was one of a large number of American merchant ships carrying troops and war supplies to the Philippines several weeks ago and all became targets of a wave of enemy bombers. In addition to strafing the deck of this Liberty ship one plane succeeded in starting a fire forward.

As flames heated the ship’s magazine and threatened the filled gasoline tanks of Army trucks stowed near by, the master Capt. F. F. Boyd, Jr. of 1379 Forty-seventh Avenue, San Francisco, ordered the hold flooded. The flooding and the efforts of crewmen finally extinguished the blaze while the ship’s guns continued to shell the attacking planes.

In his report on how the Morrison R. Waite and most of her cargo were saved, Captain Boyd, 30 years in the Merchant Marine and veteran of war service in the Aleutians, Africa and Italy theaters, as well as the Pacific, paid particular tribute to the heroism of one of his crew members.

He is Anthony L. Martinez, acting able seaman, whose mother lives at 3280 Cleveland Avenue, New Orleans. After helping the gun crew as a loader, Captain Boyd relates, Martinez took a leading part in fighting the ship fire, braving the imminent possibility of ammunition and gasoline explosions. Plunging below decks he rescued several injured men, despite pitch darkness and the fact that part of the ladder to the deck had been blown away. Then he dove overboard and saved soldiers who had jumped or had been blown into the water.

Tribute also was paid by Ensign Irving M. Goldstein, commanding the Navy Armed Guard, for the assistance given his gunners by the cargo vessel’s civilian merchant crew. More than enough seamen volunteered to man the guns, he stated. Goldstein, in turn, was praised by Captain Boyd for his calm and efficient direction of the defense of the ship.

When the action was over and the ship was found seaworthy enough to make port for repairs it was discovered that in addition to the 16 soldiers killed, 5 were missing and 41 wounded. Two navy gunners also were wounded,

SS Morrison R. Waite hull damage to SS Morrison R. Waite
SS Morrison R. Waite after attack by Japanese suicide planes, Leyte Gulf, Phillippine Islands, 01/29/1945 Close-up view of hull damage to SS Morrison R. Waite caused by kamikaze

The Morrison R. Waite’s first combat test came during the American landings on the Anzio, Italy, beachhead. While she was delivering military supplies for the Fifth Army’s successful drive on Rome six German planes then attacked, dropping bombs hear the ship. One singled out the Liberty ship for attack but was brought down by the guns which 12 volunteers from the merchant crew served with the Navy Armed Guard.

The Morrison R. Waite was named in honor of the Ohioan who was Chief Justice of the United States from 1874 to 1888. The vessel was built in the Richmond, Calif., shipyard of the Permanente Metals Corporation, being delivered November 23, 1942. She is operated for the War Shipping Administration by the Coastwise Pacific Far East Line, San Francisco.

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National Archives. Department of the Navy. Twelfth Naval District. Office of the Commandant. Record Group 181: Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, Serial 0143, Enclosure B: Photographs of hull damage to SS Morrison R. Waite after attack by Japanese suicide planes, Leyte Gulf, Phillippine Islands , 01/29/1945

Memorandum for Report From Commandant, 12th Naval District to Chief of Naval Operations; Subject: SS Morrison Waite, Attack on (by Japanese suicide planes, Leyte Gulf, Phillippine Islands), 01/29/1945

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