James Morley Hendy
Born: September 9, 1918
Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA
Class: 1942 – USMMCC Cadet Officer
1941 – California Maritime Academy
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Chief Officer
Date / Place of death: November 19, 1944 /
USS Rixey (APH 3)
Date / Place of burial: November 20, 1944 /
Buried at Sea, 07-07N 131-57E
James M. Hendy was appointed a Cadet Officer, U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps in
December 1941 and assigned to the SS Cape Alava. According to Crew Lists on file in
New York, by April 1942 he had been promoted to Third Mate aboard the SS Cape
Alava and completed a voyage to Bombay, India in that capacity. Other records
indicate that the left the Cape Alava for some reason in England in early 1943 and
signed on aboard the SS Erin at Bristol, UK on February 18. The Erin arrived at New
York on March 15, 1943.
He signed on as Chief Mate aboard SS Gilbert Stuart at New York, NY on March 1, 1944. After a voyage to England he signed articles again at New Orleans, LA on July 14, 1944 before the ship sailed for the South Pacific.
By October 1944 the Gilbert Stuart had arrived in Hollandia, New Guinea. On October
29, 1944 the ship sailed for San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands with 500 Army
troops and their equipment plus about 6,000 drums of motor gasoline in the lower
holds. The ship arrived at San Pedro Bay November 4. In the following days the ship
anchored off Dulag and then shifted to an anchorage off of Red Beach, south of
Tacloban. During its stay in San Pedro Bay enemy air attacks were frequent, with up to
four “red alerts” each day.
On the morning of November 18 the first red alert came at 0515 (local) bringing the
crew, Armed Guard and Army longshoremen to their general quarters stations.
Roughly two hours later at 0715 another red alert was received. The gun crews began
firing as enemy aircraft attacked the ship, shooting down two of them. However, a third
aircraft attacked from dead ahead. Several of the ship’s 20mm machine guns began
firing at the plane, shooting its tail off. The damaged bomber crashed into the
starboard side of the bridge. The aircraft’s bombs fell into the midships section of the
ship while the burning wreckage of the aircraft spread across the after portion of the
ship. The aircraft’s engine actually fell into the #4 Lower Hold which contained 2,000
drums of motor gasoline but did not start a fire.
At the time of the attack, most of the Deck Department was on deck working with the
Army longshoremen unloading cargo. Fire broke out along the entire length of the deck
following the attack. The aft gun crews flooded the aft magazine, released a life raft,
and then swam from the stern to the bow to assist in the fire fighting. The rest of the
crew immediately manned the fire hoses. Within a few minutes firefighting and rescue
craft had joined the effort to save the ship and its cargo. The fire was eventually put out
without igniting the remaining cargo of gasoline.
Of the 38 merchant crew and 29 Naval Armed Guard on board, five crew members and one navy gunner were killed in the attack. In addition, five Army longshoremen working aboard the Gilbert Stuart were also killed. Many more men, including Chief Mate James M.
Hendy, were wounded in the attack or burned by the fires. Several of the Gilbert Stuart’s
badly injured men, including James Hendy, were transferred to the Evacuation
Transport USS Rixey (APH 3) for transport to hospital facilities in Manus, New Guinea.
However, the extent of James Hendy’s wounds and third degree burns resulted in his
coming aboard the Rixey in severe shock. Despite continuous administration of
plasma, two transfusions of whole blood and the best efforts of the Rixey’s medical
staff, James M. Hendy succumbed to his wounds at 1655 on November 19, 1944. He
was buried at sea in a service conducted by Chaplain Lt. L. E. Cook, USNR at 1000 on
November 20, 1944.
Based on his Merchant Marine Service, he would have received the Mariners Medal,
Combat Bar with star, Atlantic War Zone Bar, Pacific War Zone Bar and the Victory
James was the only son of Joseph H. Hendy and Grace Miriam Maxfield Hendy. At the
time of his death he was married to Dorothy P. Hendy. James and Dorothy were
married in 1943. James’ father was born in England and was a homebuilder. The 1940
census shows that James was living at home working as carpenter’s helper. James
was born in Fruitland, ID along with his older sister Miriam Sara Hendy.