Edwards, David Lincoln

David Lincoln Edwards

Born: February 12, 1918
Hometown: Brighton, MA
Class:1938 Massachusetts Nautical School
1940- USMMCC Cadet Officer
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Chief Mate
Date / Place of death: February 23, 1943 / North Atlantic
46-15’N, 38-11’W
Date / Place of burial: February 23, 1943 / North Atlantic,
46-15’N, 38-11’W / Lost at Sea
Age: 25


David L. Edwards started his sailing career on August 1, 1938 as a Cadet Officer
assigned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey ship SS Hydrographer. He subsequently
sailed as Cadet Officer aboard the SS Delnorte and as Third Mate aboard the SS
Delplata, Delorleans and Delmundo. On August 13, 1942 the latter ship was torpedoed
and sunk. However, David Edwards survived the sinking and returned to sea. He
signed on aboard the SS Jonathan Sturges on or before January 12, 1943. Among the
ship’s crew on that date were Cadet-Midshipmen Harry Burlison, Grover Leitz, Ralph
Kohlmeyer and William Wilson.

After safely delivering its cargo to England the Jonathan Sturges was returning to New
York with Convoy ON-166 from Liverpool to New York City when it fell behind the
convoy on the night of February 23/24, 1943. The ship, with a crew of 44 merchant
mariners and a Naval Armed Guard of 31 was carrying 1,500 tons of sand ballast. In
bad weather and poor visibility the Sturges was making 6 knots, about ½ its full speed.
At about 1 am, the vessel was struck in the forward part of the ship by two torpedoes
fired by U-707. The engines were secured, but the ship, which had apparently been
broken in two, began to sink bow first. Survivors recalled that the explosions gave off a
sweet odor, and left a sweet taste in their mouths for hours after the incident.

Although the radio officer was able to send a distress signal, there was no time to await
a reply as the crew abandoned ship. Two lifeboats and four life rafts were successfully
launched. According to the post sinking report of the survivors, nineteen men were able
to get into one life boat while the Master, Chief Mate David Edwards and fifteen others
were in the other boat. The other twenty-four survivors were able to reach the four life
rafts. However, the boats and rafts were soon separated.

On February 27, three days after the sinking, the boat with nineteen men aboard met
up with a lifeboat carrying three survivors from the Dutch ship SS Madoera who had
been in the same convoy. Eight of the Sturges’ survivors climbed into the Madoera’s
boat. Although one of the Jonathan Sturges’ crew eventually died of exposure, the
other eighteen (along with the three Madoera survivors) were rescued by the USS
Belknap (DD 251) on March 12, 1943. However, the other lifeboat with its seventeen
survivors was never seen again. Of the twenty-four men on the life rafts, only 6
survived. These men were rescued on April 5 by U-336 and spent the rest of the war
as Prisoners of War.

Based on his merchant marine service David L. Edwards was posthumously awarded
the Mariners Medal, Combat Bar with two stars, Atlantic War Zone Bar, Victory Medal,
and the Presidential Testimonial Letter.

David L. Edwards was the son of Harry Phillip Edwards, Sr. of Brighton, MA. He had at
least one sibling, brother Harry, Jr. At the time of his death he was married to Marie
Edwards who was living in New Orleans, LA.

According to his U.S. Coast Guard file, David Edwards served aboard the USS
Nantucket as a Cadet from March 28, 1936 to April 5, 1938. The former USS
Nantucket was assigned to the Massachusetts Nautical School, now Massachusetts
Maritime Academy, in 1901. With the exception of its reactivation and service in the
U.S. Navy during World War I, the Nantucket served as the Massachusetts Nautical
School’s training ship until 1940. In that year the former USS Nantucket was
transferred to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to serve as its training ship. Two
years later the Nantucket was renamed the Emery Rice. After eighteen years of service
to Kings Point the Emery Rice was scrapped in 1958. However, the “heart” of this early
piece of Kings Point history, the ship’s engine, remains at Kings Point as a National
Historic Engineering Landmark.


10 thoughts on “Edwards, David Lincoln

  1. Hello,

    I came across a letter written to my grandfather, Alexander Benjamin Sandusky (Sadowski), who was one of the survivors on the SS Jonathan Sturges. The letter was written by Paul N. Edwards, David Lincoln Edward’s brother, inquiring about the events that happened in February 23, 1943. My grandfather was the only survivor that wrote back to Paul Edwards as there was a second letter thanking him for the information given on his brother. I find this site, as well as the letters, very insightful into a life of a grandfather I was never able to meet.

    • Thank you very much for your thoughtful note. I am sure you are proud of your grandfather for many reasons! George

    • Alexander, thank you for past comments about your grand father and the men who served our nation during WWII. We have raised some money to send the book Braving the Wartime Seas to the relatives of the men in the Merchant Marine from the Maritime Commission programs who died during the war. Please send me your postal mail address and I will send you a book in 3-4 weeks. My e mail is george@ryansinbay.com Again thanks. George

  2. I have been searching for my Uncle for a while. My dad, Paul Edwards, never spoke of his brother except to say that David proudly served in the Merchant Marine. My grandparents never spoke of him and were very upset when my parents gave my brother the first name of David as they were convinced it would be unlucky. I always wondered what became of his wife and if they had any children. Thank you for posting this biography. It fills in a large blank in my dad’s family history. I am sending the URL to my brother, David. I think he would like to know about the uncle he was named after.
    Carol Munoz

  3. From Alex Sadowski to Carol Munoz: edited by George Ryan
    Hi Carol,

    I am not sure if you are interested, but here are a couple of letters that were sent to my grandfather (Alex) from your father Paul about your uncle David. I can give you a link to the letters on my Google Drive:

  4. My granduncle, Raymond Jerome Masog was one of the men who died. I had heard stories about Uncle Ray, but it would appear that those stories may have been mis-related to me, so I would appreciate any additional information about the boat sinking and the survivor’s journey to safety.

    • Thanks for your continued interest in your Uncle Ray’s life. I do not have more info on the journey and rescue of the other crew. I will forward to others in the team and if they do they will contact you. It will also be posted on the blog soas others who know of the sinking might reply. George

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.