Joseph Lawrence

Joseph Lawrence

Joseph Lawrence served on the SS Esso Philadelphia, the SS Bostonian, the SS America Sun, the SS Joseph W Folk, the SS William D Hoard, the SS George Amos, the USS Robert H McCard and the USS Howard Gilmore.

Picture Below: This is a picture of Joe Lawrence at the tender age of 75 and you can see Joe is still going strong.


Here is just one story, as narrated by Joe:
I was on several ships,a few tankers,liberty's,C2 type of ships that got up to 15 knots I was on the Esso Philadelphia in July of 1943. We got on the tanker at Norfolk,Va. We went to Aruba to get loaded. We did not know where we were going untill we saw the Rock of Gibralter. While in Aruba there was a tanker that got loaded and it belonged to Spain. It took off one day and a half before we did,then one night about 0100 off the starboard side we saw lights on the horizon. When a ship was from a Neutral country like Spain was, they would have lights shining over the side and the ship had their flag painted on both sides. No one was to fire any guns on them. As we approached the lights, it was the same tanker that was in Aruba. It was refueling German Subs and had 2 subs on each side. We were off the coast of Casablanca. It was a good thing the tanker had them along side, because I am sure we would have been torpedoed. About 2 days later we arrived into Gibralter. There, the Battle ship Texas was waiting for our cargo, and also in port was a Greek submarine, waiting for the oil we had on board. They were getting ready for the invasion of Africa. We were just lucky that we had the cargo of oil for them. There were many ships sunk in the harbor, and they were full of cargo for the troops in Europe or where else they may have been. After the war was over, Japan had taken those ships that were sunk, got the cargo out of them and salvaged all the ships for scrap steel, and going up the Schelts river to Antwerp, the Japs salvaged all of the aircraft that had been shot down and crashed into the river. They salvaged for aluminum all the aircraft. When on board tankers, we sailed alone between South America and Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the ships were way back in so the German subs would not get them. They all would leave in a convoy for Europe , and for Murmansk,Russia The Tanker Atlantic States sailed for 22 months between South America and Halifax hauling oil for the ships that went to Europe. She was so rusty they put her into dry dock and gave her a sand blast and repainted her with nice new gray paint. The first trip after she left the dry docks carrying her first load, 350 miles out from New York,she got a torpedo and sank. I was in Odessa, the Ukraine, and brought cargo for the Russian troops, and for that ship I was on, I received a bronze medal from Boris Yeltsin, 54 years later for delivering cargo to Russia. I can be emailed at

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