Warren Prime Marks
Born: September 20, 1923
Hometown: Nutley, NJ
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Engine Cadet
Date / Place of death: July 14, 1943 / Avola, Sicily
Date / Place of burial: July 14, 1943 / Lost at Sea –Avola, Sicily
December 11, 1942 at the port of New York. He was joined by Christopher C. Brennan
(Deck), William L. Lyman (Deck) and Lawrence D. McLaughlin (Engine). Signing on as
Second Mate was former Cadet Officer George Alther.
The Allied Invasion of Sicily, “Operation Husky” involved amphibious assaults near Gela
(U.S. Forces) and Avola (British Forces), Sicily on the morning of July 10, 1943. Shortly
thereafter the Timothy Pickering arrived off Avola after sailing in convoy from
Alexandria, Egypt on July 6 with 130 British soldiers and a cargo of munitions, TNT,
high octane gasoline, artillery pieces and trucks. On the morning of July 13, the vessel
was anchored in the harbor, about half a mile from shore, with the bow in and the
starboard side closest to the shore. The crew had begun unloading the vessel’s cargo.
At 1040 GCT, the allied shipping off Avola was attacked by German dive bombers. One
of them dropped a single 500-pound bomb on the Timothy Pickering in its Number 4
hold. The bomb detonated in the ship’s engine room, causing a massive explosion of
the ship’s cargo with resulting fire. The explosion left a gaping hole in the starboard
side of the ship causing it to quickly begin sinking.
With no time to either launch lifeboats or be given an order to abandon ship the crew
began to leave the ship immediately, leaping over the side into the oily waters, or sliding
down ropes and the anchor chain. In May 1944 the Academy’s newspaper, Polaris,
printed a report on the loss of the Timothy Pickering which expanded on the report of
the sinking by Cadet-Midshipman Brennan, one of only 29 survivors.
“The ticklish cargo of explosives and high-test octane was being gently
worked over the side to waiting supply barges when one such raider
appeared and began to attack. The plane’s bomb landed squarely into the
open number four hatch of Brennan’s ship. The explosion was
instantaneous. Sheets of yellow flame and billowing clouds of smoke rose
hundreds of feet in the air. Two adjacent ships were set afire; others were
bombarded with huge chunks of metal. Cadet-midshipmen on other
vessels heard the explosion some 50 miles out at sea. To stunned
observers nearby, the doomed ship seemed to dissolve into thin air.”
The Timothy Pickering’s other Cadet-Midshipmen were not as lucky as Brennan.
According to Brennan’s report, Warren Marks was in the engine room at the time of the
explosion, and was killed instantly. William Lyman was in his quarters when the ship
was hit by the bomb and was not seen afterward. Brennan states that Lawrence
McLaughlin was seen jumping over the side of the ship, but drifted into the burning oil
that surrounded the blazing ship. Along with the three Cadet-Midshipmen,19 other crew
members, 8 Naval Armed Guard Sailors, and 100 British soldiers died in the attack.
Also among the dead was Second Mate George W. Alther, Jr., whose heroic actions
during the disaster were recognized by the award of the Merchant Marine Distinguished
Cadet-Midshipman Warren P. Marks was posthumously awarded the Mariners Medal,
Combat Bar, Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Mediterranean-Middle East War Zone Bar, the
Presidential Testimonial Letter, and the Victory Medal.
Warren P. “Moose” Marks was the oldest of Sylvester Wade Marks and Arabella “Belle”
Florence Prime Marks’ three children. Warren’s little sister was Annis Jean and his
little brother was Roger. The 1940 U.S. Census lists Sylvester Marks’ occupation as
Assistant Manager of a 5 & 10 cent store. Warren attended public schools in Nutley,
NJ graduating from Nutley High School in January 1941. At school Warren was a
member of the dramatic club. He was also a member of the Vincent Methodist Church.
A Liberty Ship, SS Warren P. Marks was named after Warren. This ship later became
the USS Protector (AGR 11) a radar picket or early warning ship that operated as part
of the Nation’s early warning radar network from 1956 to 1965.
Photo Marks Family Portrait 1931
Warren P. Marks
|(September 3, 1943) — Midshipman Warren Prime Marks, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. S. W. Marks of St. Mary’s Place, has been killed in action somewhere in the Mediterranean.Engine cadet Marks and 11 others were killed aboard the Liberty ship Timothy Pickering on July 13, according to the U.S. Merchant Marines.The vessel was bombed and sunk by aircraft while anchored at Avola, Sicily.Warren Marks was born in Nutley on Sept. 20, 1923, attended Nutley schools, graduating from Nutley high school in January 1941. He was a member of the high school dramatic club and took part in the senior play. He was a member of Vincent Methodist church.Marks has a sister, Annis Jean, and a brother Roger Dow, both living at home.
A longer biography appears in
NUTLEY SONS HONOR ROLL Remembering the Men Who Paid for Our Freedom
In a letter sent Aug. 31, 1943, to his surviving sons Pete & Dave serving in the war, Mr. Lyman reports of the death of his son William “Boots” Lyman aboard the Pickering as told to him by survivor Chris Breman:
“… To save you all the time of reading this in order to get to the point, I will tell you now that three of the four are lost and Bill is no doubt one of them … They were blown to bits in the Port of Siracusa in Sicily taking in troops and supplies to back up our men who had already been landed … they were put into the Sicily job with plenty of other ships and sailed to their end as I have told you. They had gasoline and TNT in their holds waiting to be unloaded when at about 11:30 a.m., on July 13, two dive bombers came over the high hills with motors shut off and were not seen in time for the ships to open up on them and they planted a good fair sized on the deck and in a second the Pickering blew to bits and there was nothing where she had been … Bill was on deck getting washed to get on his deck watch at noon and … he was not seen again. Warren was in the engine room on watch and was never seen again. … The two planes were knocked down by the other ships a second after …”
Letter courtesy: Ellen Dester Hayes
LIBERTY SHIP: SS WARREN P. MARKS
Maritime Commission Hull Number 2346, was chartered or operated by Army Transportation Service; Renamed YAGR 11-AGR 11 Protector
|BUILT BY||J.A. Jones Const. Co., Panama City, FL|
|KEEL LAID||31 January 1945 MCE hull 2346|
|LAUNCHED||15 March 1945|
|SPONSORED BY||Mrs. E.M. Hinson|
|PLACED IN SERVICE||29 March 1945|
- Laid down, 31 January 1945, as Warren P. Marks, a Maritime Commission type (EC2-S-C5) hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MCE 2346) at J. A. Jones Construction Co. Inc., Panama City, FL.
- Launched, 15 March 1945
- Delivered to the Maritime Commission, 29 March 1945, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet
- Acquired by the Navy and converted to a Radar Picket Ship at Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, S.C.
- Commissioned, USS Protector (YAGR-11), 21 January 1956
- Redesignated (AGR-11), 20 February 1957
- Decommissioned, 28 July 1965
- Struck from the Naval Register (date unknown)
- Transferred to the Maritime Commission for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, engine removed at Norfolk Naval Shipyard
- Final Disposition, to be scrapped in late 2003 at Able UK, Teeside, England