Robert Louis Lamac
Born: September 14, 1921
Hometown: Bronx, NY
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Deck Cadet
Date / Place of death: January 27, 1943 /
Atlantic, 36-37 N, 30-55 W
Date / Place of burial: January 27, 1943 /
Lost At Sea, Atlantic, 36-37 N, 30-55 W
Robert L. Lamac signed on aboard the Liberty Ship SS Charles C. Pinckney as Deck
Cadet on January 1, 1943 at the port of New York. Joining him on the ship was his
classmate, Engine Cadet Vincent Corrigan. On the same day Theodore Scharpf, a
former Merchant Marine Cadet Corps Cadet Officer signed on as First Assistant
The Pinckney sailed with convoy UGS-4 from Hampton Roads, Virginia on January 13,
1943 loaded with ammunition, a general cargo of war supplies and mechanized
equipment bound for Casablanca. On the night of January 21, 1943 the Charles
Pinckney, SS City of Flint, and SS Julia Ward Howe, straggled from the convoy. All
three, no longer protected by the convoy escort of six U.S. Navy destroyers, were eventually sunk by U-boats.
On January 27th the Pinckney was about 200 miles south-southwest of Fayal Island,
Azores. During the morning the watch sighted a submarine far off on the horizon,
traveling parallel to the Pinckney, apparently at great speed. The gun crew fired a few
shots at the submarine, but even at maximum elevation, these did not come close to
their target. The Pinckney then increased to its maximum speed of 11 knots.
Late in the afternoon, the Pinckney changed its course to proceed directly away from
the submarine, but the crew was unable to tell whether or not the submarine followed.
At about 2145 local time, the Chief Mate observed a torpedo, fired by U-514, heading
directly for the ship, and ordered a hard right rudder. The order came too late and the
torpedo struck just behind the ship’s bow, detonating part of the cargo. The explosion
blew off the bow killing two men in the forward gun crew. On the Captain’s order, the
crew abandoned ship immediately, with all but one of the boats lowered successfully.
The gun crew remained on the ship at great peril to their own lives, given the cargo of
munitions on board. When the German submarine which had fired the torpedo later
surfaced near the port beam, the gun crew fired on the sub. Although the gun crew
claimed they sunk the submarine, it had actually made an emergency dive.
Since the ship did not immediately sink, the crew re-boarded the ship to see if it could
be repaired. After inspecting the ship’s engines the Chief Engineer reported that it
would not be possible to raise steam and continue sailing the ship. However, the crew
was able to collect additional supplies, and send a distress signal. Around midnight U-
514 fired two more torpedoes, the second torpedo hit the Pinkney and the crew
abandoned ship again. Soon thereafter U-514, approached the boats and questioned
The four lifeboats began making for the Azores, but were unable to stay together in
heavy seas during the second night. One lifeboat, carrying six crew members, including
the Second Officer, and eight Naval Armed Guard Sailors, was picked up on February
8th by the Swiss ship Caritas I, and later landed at Horta, Fayal Island. The other three
lifeboats were never seen again. Of the 73 persons aboard the Pinckney (42 crew, 29
Naval Armed Guard, and 2 U.S. Army Security Officers), only these 14 were rescued.
Cadet-Midshipmen Robert L. Lamac and Vincent Corrigan, along with First Assistant
Engineer Theodore Scharpf, were among those lost.
Cadet-Midshipman Robert L. Lamac was posthumously awarded the Mariners Medal,
Combat Bar with star, Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal and the Presidential
Robert L. Lamac was the oldest of Emil and Mary Lamac’s two sons. According to the
1930 U.S. Census Emil was a machinist at an instrument manufacturing company.