Ermal Butler

Birth
Arcadia, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Death 2 Jul 1944 (aged 24)
At Sea
Burial Buried or Lost at Sea
Memorial ID 199775087 · View Source
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Ermal served as a Utility Man, S.S. Jean Nicolet, Merchant Marines during World War II.

He resided in Los Angeles County, California prior to the war.

The S.S. Jean Nicolet, a Liberty ship built in Portland, Oregon, in October 1943, was operated for the War Shipping Administration by the Oliver J. Olson Company of San Francisco and under the command of " Captain David Martin Nilsson " of Oakland, California.

The S.S. Jean Nicolet departed from San Pedro, California, on May 12, 1944 enroute to Colombo, Ceylon. She first made one stop in Fremantle, Australia and then departed from there on June 21, 1944 to continue on to Ceylon.

On board was a complement of 100 men consisting of 41 merchant crew, 28 Naval Armed Guard, and 31 passengers. The passenger list was made up of six U.S. Army officers, 12 U.S. Army enlisted men, eight Navy technicians, four civilians, and one U.S. Army medical corpsman.

Approximately 700 miles south of Ceylon she was struck by two torpedoes fired from the Japanese submarine I-8. Because of the ship's listing the Master (Captain), David Martin Nilsson, ordered everyone to "abandon ship" which it is believed everyone did safely.

Japanese submarine I-8 surfaced and called to all of the survivors to come over to their submarine. The majority, but not all, did so. Those that didn't tried to swim away and some of them did indeed survive. Approximately " 75 " of the survivors then boarded the submarine.

Captain Nilsson, Gus Tilden (radio operator), and Francis J. O'Gara (War Shipping Administration representative) were taken to the conning tower and shoved below deck. Of the three only "O'Gara" survived the ordeal.

The crew were held in two different locations ~ some on the fore deck and others on the after deck behind the conning tower of the submarine. Those on the fore deck did not realize that those on the after deck were being "executed" and thrown over board. Many were led, one by one, from the fore deck to the after deck to suffer that fate.

Soon a Liberator aircraft was detected by the submarine's radar and the commander of the submarine decided that he need to submerge. About 30 of the survivors, with their hands tied, were still on deck when the submarine went down into the sea. Some of them survived ... and some didn't.

Ermal "Lost His Life" in this incident during the war. It is unknown which fate he suffered.

He was awarded the "Mariner's Medal".

His next of kin was noted as being Mary Butler who resided in Los Angeles, California.

His remains were not recovered.

10 Merchant crewmen, 10 Naval Armed Guards, and 4 passengers, including "O'Gara", survived to tell the story.

( Bio by: Russ Pickett )


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  • Created by: Russ Pickett
  • Added: 5 Jun 2019
  • Find A Grave Memorial 199775087
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ermal Butler (27 Dec 1919–2 Jul 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 199775087, ; Maintained by Russ Pickett (contributor 46575736) Buried or Lost at Sea.