This Day in History: SS Fort Lee's survivors

On this day in 1944, survivors of SS Fort Lee are rescued. The American tanker had been torpedoed by a German submarine a full week earlier. Too many Merchant Marines suffered similar fates during those years, yet what would we have done without them?

Their efforts were critical to winning World War II.


SS Fort Lee was carrying a cargo of fuel across the Indian Ocean on November 2, 1944, when she was targeted by a German submarine. Sixty-six of 75 Americans survived the attack and made it to Lifeboats #1, #2, #4, and #6. (See November 2 post.)


Our boys were stranded in the dark, with only the stars for company. They’d been unable to send an emergency message before their tanker lost power, then went down. Some of the men had burns or shrapnel wounds. One had a broken leg. Their provisions were limited. Sharks began circling.