Harry Arthur Wolfe, Jr.
Born: October 26, 1920
Hometown: Kingston, PA
Class: 1941 Pennsylvania Nautical School;
1942 USMMCC Cadet Officer
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Third Mate
Date / Place of death: January 9, 1943 / North
Atlantic, 56-15 N, 22-00 W
Date / Place of burial: January 9, 1943 / North
Atlantic, 56-15 N, 22-00 W – Lost at Sea
Harry A. Wolfe signed on aboard the SS Louise Lykes on November 7, 1941 as a
“Cadet Officer” in the ship’s Deck Department. The ship completed a voyage to South
Africa and returned to New York on March 31, 1942. Six weeks later, on May 9, 1942
Harry Wolfe was promoted to Junior Third Mate for a voyage to South Africa and the
Red Sea. He continued as the Louise Lykes’ Junior Third Mate for a voyage to North
Africa, from which the ship returned to New York on December 12, 1942.
The SS Louise Lykes sailed without escort from New York on January 2, 1943 carrying
a cargo of ammunition and other war supplies bound for Belfast, Northern Ireland. The
ship was hit by four torpedoes fired from the surfaced U-384 at 2025 on the evening of
January 9, 1943. According to German Navy records, the Louise Lykes’ cargo
exploded with what was described as “a terrible blast” forcing U-384 to dive to avoid
being struck by pieces of the wreckage. There were no survivors among the 50
merchant crew, 34 Naval Armed Guard, and 10 U.S. Army personnel aboard.
Another former U.S. Maritime Commission Cadet Officer, Frederick Baumann and five
Cadet-Midshipmen from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; Michael M. Chrobak,
Charles C. Gassner, Allen G. Miller, Robert C. Vancure, and Eugene W. Walters, were
all killed, making the sinking of the SS Louise Lykes the single deadliest sinking in the
Academy’s history, in terms of cadet losses.
Based on his merchant marine service, Harry A. Wolfe was posthumously awarded the
Mariners Medal, Combat Bar with star, Atlantic War Zone Bar, Mediterranean – Middle
East Bar, the Victory Medal and the Presidential Testimonial Letter.
Harry Wolfe was the only son of Harry A. Wolfe, Sr. and Emily Wolfe. The Wolfes had
an older daughter, Margaret. According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Margaret and her
husband, Robert Bell, were living with the Wolfes. At that time Harry Sr. was employed
as an electrician at a local iron works.
Photo of SS Louise Lykes