Parents: Guyda Pearl (Maryatt) and Wilbur Warren Chesley Siblings: Viola, Bertha, Albert, Wilbur W. Jr, Elmer E., June, John D., two brothers and a sister still living
According to a crew list entry made in 1941, Mr. Chesley had 10 years experience at sea. He was 5'7" and weighed 120 pounds.
Service No: Z 75951 (Z 76951?) Address of Record: Lynn, MA -.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.- On March 22, 1942, the SS Muskogee, an American merchant ship, was enroute from Venezuela to Halifax, Nova Scotia with a cargo of heavy crude oil. The unarmed, unescorted tanker was about 450 miles north-northeast of Bermuda when it was spied by German submarine U-123. The sub fired a torpedo which missed the tanker. A second torpedo was fired about 30 minutes later, this time hitting the engine room, which caused the tanker to sink, stern first, within 16 minutes. Ten men made it into two life rafts. The sub surfaced and the U-boat commander questioned the men before leaving the area. There were 34 Merchant Mariners on board including Radio Officer CLIFFORD ELTON CHESLEY; none, including those on the life rafts, survived. -.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.- Epilogue: As the Muskogee was sinking, U-123 surfaced and while the captain questioned some of the survivors, a photo-journalist took pictures, including one of seven men on a life raft. Sometime later, the photos were part of a full-page spread in a German weekly publication. Captain George Duffy, USMM, a prisoner aboard a German supply ship, picked up a copy to read and realized the ship was a US tanker that had been torpedoed. Thinking the men on the life raft survived, he tore out the page, folded it and kept it to show them. After many years of searching, the ship was finally identified as the SS Muskogee. Even though there were no survivors, the search continued and eventually four of the seven men on the life raft were identified as O.S. Vincent V. Baker, A.S. Anthony G. Sousa, Third Mate Nathaniel D. Foster and Chief Mate Morgan J. Finucane.
The photo became the inspiration for the Merchant Marine Memorial at Battery Park, NY. On a plaque at the memorial can be found these words: “Left to the perils of the sea, the survivors later perished.”