Ceslaus Adam Maciorowski
Born: November 27, 1917
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Third Assistant Engineer
Date / Place of death: September 19, 1942 /
11-20 N, 58-50 W
Date / Place of burial: September 19, 1942 / Lost at Sea – 11-20 N, 58-50 W
Ceslaus “Chester” Maciorowski sailed as Engine Cadet aboard the passenger ship SS
Santa Rosa. According to Merchant Marine Cadet Corps records, he signed off in June
1941 with 11 ½ months of experience aboard steam ships. He spent the next few
months in academic studies at Fort Schuyler before returning to sea to acquire
additional sea time on diesel powered ships. On November 18, 1941 Chester signed on
as Engine Cadet aboard the MS Wichita at the port of New York for a voyage to
Australia. He signed off upon the ship’s arrival in New Orleans in early April 1942. This
gave him just enough time to sit for his license examinations in New Orleans on May 5
and 7, and return to the ship as its new Junior Third Assistant Engineer on May 20,
1942. Already aboard the ship was Cadet-Midshipman Chester E. Klein who had
signed on a few days earlier as Engine Cadet. Cadet-Midshipman Robert Bole signed
on as Deck Cadet the next day. The MS Wichita was originally a World War I-era “Hog
Islander”, but was converted from steam turbine to diesel propulsion in 1929.
(photo of MS Wichita)
The ship sailed for Africa in late May. After calling at several ports the Wichita sailed
from Takoradi, Ghana on September 1, 1942, without any escort, bound for St.
Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands loaded with general cargo. According to German Navy
records the Wichita was located and attacked by U-516 on the morning of September
19, 1942, when the Wichita was about 300 miles east of Barbados. The submarine’s
initial attack was unsuccessful. However, after re-positioning itself the U-516 hit the
Wichita with a torpedo between the foremast and the bridge, despite zig-zagging at a
speed of about 11 knots. The Wichita sank in less than a minute with no survivors.
The U-516’s log book states that the submarine surfaced and searched the sinking area
but found neither survivors nor lifeboats. Ceslaus (Chester) Maciorowski, Cadet-
Midshipmen Robert J. Bole, III and Chester E. Klein were among the dead.
Based on his sailing experience as an Engine Cadet, Ceslaus A. Maciorowski had
already earned the Pacific, Atlantic and American Defense bars when he signed on
aboard the MS Wichita for its final voyage. From his final voyage aboard the MS
Wichita he was posthumously awarded the Mariner’s Medal, Combat Bar with star, the
Victory Medal and the Presidential Testimonial Letter.
Chester Maciorowski was the middle of Adam Maciorowski and Camilla Maciorowski’s
three children and the oldest of their two sons. Chester’s sister, Mary, was the oldest by
three years while John, the youngest, was three years younger. According to the 1940
U.S. Census, Adam Maciorowski was employed as a Molder while Chester was working
full time as a Machinist.