Sunday, November 9, 2014

Marcia’s Father’s Fishing Boat -- a Piece of History

Teddy Boat

After Church we typically go out to eat with Marcia’ brother Mike.  He told us today that recently a lady had given him a picture and a partial newspaper article about a boat his father owned.  Pictured above is the boat “Teddy”, with Marcia’s father, John, at the front of the boat, and her brother Mike, in the center of the boat.  The newspaper article (below) says that the boat was once a lifeboat on the S.S. Ernie Pyle.   Mike had already scanned it, and an email was awaiting us when we got home.

teddie boat article

If you click on the article above, you can read it much better.  Essentially it says that the boat was an old lifeboat from the “Ernie Pyle”.  Any good WW2 amateur historian knows that Ernie Pyle was probably the most famous war correspondent, covering the European conflict until Paris was liberated, then while covering the war in the Pacific, was killed by a Japanese sniper in April 1945 near Okinawa.  On Sunday June 24, 1945 the SS Ernie Pyle, a type C4 Class Cargo Ship was christened in honor of Ernie Pyle, who was one of the few civilians who received the Purple Heart, awarded to him in 1983.  Essentially it was a Military Transport/Cargo ship. 

SS Ernie Pyle 1

With the fall of Europe came the need to deal with the many orphans, single mothers, and young families, many of Jewish descent.  The SS Ernie Pyle was converted into a different type of transport ship.  The cargo holds had cots placed in them for the men and older boys while the troop transport area held the women and young children.  The ship was one of many which brought these displaced people, many young children, some who were just babies, to America and Canada.

SS Ernie Pyle lifeboats

Above is a close-up of the lifeboats in the previous picture…looks a lot like the “Teddy” featured in the article and picture of Marcia’s father.

SS Ernie Pyle 2

Here is a picture of the Ernie Pyle unloading some of the “cargo” in New York.  Many of the times the people were unloaded at Ellis Island, but sometimes they unloaded right at the port of New York.  Sometimes the ship continued to Canada, or went directly to Canada.  The ship could carry around 900 refuges at a time. 

SS Ernie Pyle 3  SS Ernie Pyle 4
SS Ernie Pyle 5

If you do a Google search on “SS ERNIE PYLE ”, you will run into many accounts of refuge stories as people in the modern day are compiling family histories/genealogies.  Here is one powerful first hand account by Sylvia which I want to share:
1947 ,we sailed from Antwerp Belgium late at night on the Ernie Pyle, we ran into a severe storm and were strapped to our bunks. I shared a room with two other women who’s names I’m sorry to say can’t recall;. But the worst time we exsperienced happened only miles away from NY. We could not sail and lay in wait untill things calmed down. The good news was that a lttle boy was born that night whom they named after the Ernie pyle  (link)
I could have spent hours and hours doing research on this, but enough is enough.  Not sure how long the SS Ernie Pyle was in service.  It was NOT a U.S. Navy Ship, like most troop transports it was part of the United States Lines fleet, a transatlantic shipping company.   Found it very interesting how Marcia’s dad owned a piece of “history” -- a unique piece of history.  No one knows what became of the fishing boat that once was a lifeboat on the SS Ernie Pyle.  Her father John owned at least four boats while in Tarpon Springs, one of them is still in use at the Sponge Docks today.


  1. I came to the US as on board the SS Ernie Pyle in 1947. Will never forget it. Landed directly at a pier on New York's West Side.

    Crossing the Atlantic, the weather was on the rough side, but no big deal. But I loved it! It was my first sea voyage and my first taste (literally and figuratively) of America, the promised land.

    G. Kanner
    Professor of Law Emeritus
    Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

    1. Very interesting, thanks for sharing that, and also for your service as a lawyer in protecting property rights. (The librarian in me strikes again...)


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