Randall Price Bourell
Born: January 4, 1921
Hometown: Olney, IL
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Deck Cadet
Date / Place of death: March 2, 1943/
North Atlantic, 62-10’N, 28-25’W
Date / Place of burial: March 2, 1943/
North Atlantic, 62-10’N, 28-25’W /
Lost at sea
Randall P. Bourell signed on aboard the Liberty Ship SS Meriwether Lewis as Deck Cadet on October 15, 1942 at New York, NY. His classmate Alan Clark had signed on as Deck Cadet two days earlier. The ship’s two Engine Cadets were Walter E. Johnson and Daniel J. Maher. After an uneventful voyage to Casablanca, French Morocco the ship returned to New York on January 10, 1943. Walter Johnson was replaced by Francis McCann around January 25, 1943. On February 18, 1943 the Meriwether Lewis with its four Kings Point cadets sailed from New York as part of convoy HX-227 bound for the United Kingdom and then to Murmansk, Russia. The ship was loaded with a cargo of vehicle tires, ammunition, and according to some references, a deck cargo of PT Boats.
According to German Navy records, the Meriwether Lewis was identified as a straggler
from a convoy and unsuccessfully attacked by U-759 in the early morning of March 2.
The submarine was unable to re-attack the Meriwether Lewis due to problems with its
engines, but it was able to contact U-634 and lead it to the straggler. The U-634 fired
four torpedoes at the Meriwether Lewis, hitting it with one of them. The damage was
apparently sufficient to stop the ship, but did not sink it. The submarine hit the
Meriwether Lewis with two more torpedoes, the last of which detonated the ship’s
ammunition cargo. Although there was plenty of time to abandon ship, the USCGC
Ingham (WPG 35) found only a 30-mile line of floating tires during its two day long
search for the SS Meriwether Lewis and crew. Thus, the ship’s entire crew of 44,
including four Kings Point Cadets, and 28 members of the Naval Armed Guard perished
in the sinking.
Cadet/Midshipman Randall P. Bourrell was posthumously awarded the Mariner’s
Medal, Combat Bar, Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal, and the Presidential
Randall P. “Bud” Bourrell, described as 5’11” tall and 180 pounds, was the youngest
child and only son of Claude A. and Aileen L. Bourell. According to his niece he loved
the outdoors, and spent his early summers fishing, swimming, and boating at the family
cabin on a lake. During his teenage years, Bud was a lifeguard at the Olney
Community Pool. A standout athlete who was voted the football team’s most valuable
player for two years in a row and captain of the team in his senior year. He graduated
from Olney High School in 1939. He was also an accomplished woodworker and built a
bedstead for his parents that they slept on for the rest of their lives.
Randall’s name was engraved on the his parent’s tombstone in the Haven Hill
Cemetery, Olney, IL.
Follows is a photo of the Bourell Family Headstone, Haven Hill Cemetery, Olney, Illinois