|Death: ||Feb. 5, 1943, At Sea|
Entered the service from Virginia
On Feb 5, 1943, Gunner's Mate 3rd Class ROBERT W. BRANCH, a US Navy Armed Guard, was on the American merchant ship SS West Portal as it made its way from New York and Halifax to Liverpool. The freighter, carrying general cargo, army stores and mail, had straggled from Convoy SC-118 and was sailing a zigzag course when it was spotted by German submarine U-413. From a distance of 3500 yards, the u-boat fired a spread of four torpedoes, the third hitting the ship forward of the bridge. Two more torpedoes were fired and the second hit the stern, causing the ship to sink. Although some of the men were observed getting into lifeboats, they were never seen again. A distress signel was received by HMS Vanessa (D29) but no position was given. HMS Vanessa left the convoy and searched but nothing was found.
There were 40 Merchant Mariners, 25 Navy Armed Guards, and 12 passengers on board; none survived.
Mr. Branch's name is included in the Tablets of the Missing on the Memorial Wall, Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, Cambridgeshire, England. This Memorial lists Feb. 6, 1944 as the date of Mr. Branch's death; it is, instead, his official date of death.
Note: BODY LOST AT SEA. Mr. Branch was on the SS West Portal when it was torpedoed and sunk in the North Atlantic by U-413
Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
South Cambridgeshire District
Plot: Memorial Wall containing the Tablets of the Missing
Maintained by: Patricia O'Neal
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56288025