CARLTON HARRIS STRANG JR. was born in Pennsylvania in 1907 to Carlton H. and Carrie Weaver Strang. He had a twin brother, Ernest Weaver Strang. In 1910, the Strang family lived in Pittsburgh PA with Carrie Strang's father, George J. Weaver. The family moved to Camden NJ sometime after 1910, residing at 2812 North Constitution Road, near Yorkship Square in the Fairview section of Camden.
When America entered into World War II, Carlton Strang sailed as an Able Bodied Seaman aboard the tanker MS Atlantic Sun, out of Philadelphia PA. The Atlantic Sun had been launched on March 6, 1920 at the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Chester PA, and was named after another tanker that had been named Atlantic Sun, which was sunk off the English coast on March 23, 1918. Coincidentially, another Camden resident, Charles Daniels, was lost in that sinking.
On March 21, 1942 the MS Atlantic Sun was struck by a torpedo from the German submarine U-124 commanded by Kapitšnleutnant Johann Mohr and damaged off the North Carolina coast. None of the crew were hurt in this incident. The MS Atlantic Sun continued in service. The U-124 sunk 7 other American ships off the coast of North Carolina between the days of March 17 and March 23, 1942.
The MS ATLANTIC SUN was torpedoed by the German submarine U-607 commanded by Kapitšn- leutnant Ernst Mengerson about 1000 ship time on February 15, 1943 about 150 miles off Cape Race, Newfoundland while en route in Convoy ON-165 from Reykjavik, Iceland to New York in ballast. At the time of the attack, the tanker had lost the convoy and was sailing alone. Her complement was 47 Merchant Crew Members and 19 Naval Armed Guards. An ordinary seaman, William Golobich, was the only survivor. He was taken prisoner aboard the sub.
The MS ATLANTIC SUN was the third ship to bear that name. Oddly enough, the first Atlantic Sun was also torpedoed, in 1918. One of those lost was also from Camden, New Jersey, Charles T. Daniels.
Carlton Strang was survived by his parents and his brother. His mother passed in May of 1952, his father in July of 1975.
The Only Survivor Tells the Story of the Torpedoing of the ATLANTIC SUN
Standing at the crowded rail of the MS GRIPSHOLM on February 20, 1945 as it entered New York Harbor was William Golobich, 23, ordinary seaman. He gazed at the Statue of Liberty. He was silent and emotion showed on his face. The men who lined the rail weren't his old shipmates and the ship wasn't the vessel on which he left America. He had left on the ATLANTIC SUN. He alone survived. This is his story.
I came off watch at 0400 on Monday, February 15 and went to my quarters on the port side, aft, to get some sleep. About 1000 that morning, I was awakened by a jarring sensation as if an extra large wave had hit the ship. The ship seemed to quiver, I got up, dressed and put on my life preserver. The engines had slowed down and the ship was very silent. I raced up on deck and when I arrived I saw a sight I'll never forget. The ship was cut in half with the forward end inclined about 60 degrees with the surface of the water. There was a large gash in the extreme end of the bow. The midship house was already almost entirely submerged. The men there never had a chance to escape.
The after half of the vessel remained on an even keel. The starboard boat was safely launched in charge of the Chief Mate. This boat contained 22 men both Navy and crew members. The rest of us remained on board. We did not try to launch the port boat because it was on the weather side and would have been difficult to launch. About 25 minutes after i got on deck, the bow reached a perpendicular position and slowly sank. About 2 hours later, the men in the lifeboat returned aboard, cold and wet from spray. They went below to change their clothes and drink hot coffee. The Chief Engineer and others inspected the engines and there was talk of backing the stern section to the nearest port.
About a half hour after the lifeboat returned, the steward spotted another torpedo headed directly toward us on the port side. We raced to the starboard rail and braced ourselves. The torpedo struck about 15 feet forward of the stern post on the port side. The ship started down by the stern. I ran to the port lifeboat and started to do what I could to launch it. By this time some men were coming up from below. Somebody tried to help me but we could not get the boat launched. Then I thought of my exposure suit which I had brought up on deck with me. When I went to look for it, the suit was gone, blown away by the explosion. Suddenly the sea threw me against the starboard rail. As there was no chance of getting back to the port lifeboat and we were sinking fast, I went over the side. As I swam away from the ship, I figured I had about 2 hours to live and I mentally said good-bye to my folks and friends at home.
Then a ring buoy floated by and I grabbed it and attached it to my shoulders. When I was about 30 yards from the stern section, it began to turn over. Soon after, it turned over and lay keel up before it sank. I also caught a glimpse of the port lifeboat. Somehow they had gotten away from the ship.
The water was cold -- about 32 degrees and the air about 25 degrees. I made for the lifeboat and when I reached it I found 8 men aboard. The boat had no oars and was waterlogged. Their situation was pretty desperate as they were sitting in water waist high and they were soaking wet. The eight men in the boat were: Henry Miller, 1st Engineer; Wallace Horton, 3rd Engineer; Robert Burger, AB; William Guilford, Steward; Donald Winey, OS; Louis Rose, Fireman; Andrew Kokoska, Oiler; and Harry Belfer, Wiper
After about a half hour in the water, I was exhausted so I grasped the side of the boat and rested. Then I noticed my legs were growing numb. Suddenly the sub surfaced about 25 yards away. Out of the conning tower popped a German officer and four or five of the crew. The officer was pointing a machine gun at us. For a moment we thought he was going to use it. He asked the name of our ship. He was told and then the men in the lifeboat asked for oars and help from the sub, to make the lifeboat more seaworthy. But the sub left and began cruising around where the tanker had gone down. After a few minutes the sub returned and came to within 25 yards of the boat. The men in the boat again pleaded for oars and some help.
In desperation I let go of the boat and swam toward the sub. I was nearly all in but I had in mind getting close to the sub and asking for assistance that might have meant life for our surviving band. I recall reaching the sub, climbing aboard, and walking toward the conning tower. Then I blacked out. When I came to, I was below deck on the sub with some of the German crew taking off my soaked clothes and massaging me. As I gradually regained my senses, I asked the captain of the sub about the 8 men in the boat. He told me he couldn't do anything for them. He informed me I was going to Germany as a prisoner of war.
During my 23 days on the sub I was not mistreated. The captain revealed to me that his first torpedo missed my ship. The second struck the bow and the third crashed into the tanker at or near the pump room, just aft of midship. The fourth sank the stern section.
I was put ashore on March 9 at St. Nazaire, France and sent by rail to Wilhelmshaven where I was kept 12 days. I spent the next 22 months at Milag Nord, about 20 miles northeast of Bremen. It was a detention camp for merchant seamen. Of the 3000 prisoners there, about 60 were Americans
On January 15, 1945 I was on my way to freedom with most of the other Americans and some British seamen. We were sent home by way of Geneva, Switzerland and Marseilles, France. At Marseilles, we boarded the GRIPSHOLM and left on February 9 and arrived at New York on February 21, 1945.
The men of the ATLANTIC SUN went to their end with calmness and great bravery. They died in the service of their country.
As published in OUR SUN May 1, 1945. Used with the kind permission of the Sun Refining & Marketing Co.
An Artist's rendition of the MS Atlantic Sun, shows the scene after a torpedo struck the bow, and another tore the ship apart. The forward section is going down and the aft section, still on an even keel, was later torpedoed and sunk
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