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Sixty-nine years ago, the SS Paul Hamilton — carrying 7,000 tons of explosives — was torpedoed, resulting in the loss of the ship and all 580 men aboard.
The ship left Hampton Roads, Virginia, on April 2, 1944, and was headed with munitions and fresh troops to the theater of operations in North Africa.
Near sunset, on April 20, the Hamilton was attacked by German Ju 88 bombers, 30 miles off the Coast of Cape Bengut, Algiers, in the Mediterranean Sea.
The attacking aircraft launched its torpedo less than 150 feet from the Hamilton.
Immediately after the torpedo hit, a violent explosion threw debris and black smoke high in the air, and when the smoke cleared, there was no sign of the ship.
During the attack on that convoy, the USS Lansdale also was sunk, with the loss of its
47 crew members.
In a Veterans Today article, Jim W. Dean noted that, “details [surrounding the Hamilton] were classified for 50 years ... only two bodies were recovered and are buried at the Allied cemetery in Algiers.
They were identified through fingerprints, so those two families had some closure.”
The incident was declassified in 1995 — with many of the parents of these KIAs passing away never knowing how their sons died.
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