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Remembering World War II
Aubrey George Connors
Aubrey George Connors
Officer / Z 359479
SS Robert Gray
US Merchant Marine / Merchant Navy
Mariners Medal, Combat Bar, Atlantic War Zone,
Victory Medal, and the Presidential Testimonial Letter
Date of Birth:
November 6, 1922
Place of Birth:
Port Maitland, Yarmouth Co., NS
Date of Enlistment:
6 feet, 1 inch
Date of Death:
April 19, 1943
Hillside Cemetery, Lincolnville Center,
Waldo Co., Maine, USA
Aubrey George Connors was the son of Wilbur Stanley (1890-1965) and Ellen J (Raymond) Connors (1896-
1985). His father was born in Beverly, Mass.; his mother in Brooklyn, Kings Co., New York. Aubrey had a
brother Ernest Wilbur (1920-1981) and a sister Elizabeth Lucille Connors Heald (1924–1994). His father served
with the US Army’s 152nd Depot Brigade of the 77th Division during the First World War.
The Connor family moved from Nova Scotia Canada to Brooklyn, New York in 1927 and in 1934, they moved to
a farm in Lincolnville, Maine. Aubrey's father, Wilbur, was a farmer according to the 1940 US Census (Maine),
and his mother, Ellen, was a teacher.
Aubrey graduated high school in 1939 and in 1941 he moved back to Brooklyn and began working for Sperry
Gyroscope Co. Aubrey registered for the US Draft on June 30, 1942, in Brooklyn, NY, and was still working at
Sperry Gyroscope Co. at the time. In 1942, he entered the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York,
following his older brother who had been accepted the year before and was scheduled to graduate in 1943.
Aubrey was an 'avid sportsman' as well as an accomplished bass horn player. A childhood friend who had
known him almost all his life, said that "Aubrey was loved by all who knew him."
Aubrey’s brother Ernest had initially enlisted May 31, 1941, in the United States Army Air Force, and also
served in the US Merchant Marine in WWII and remained in the services, serving in the United States Naval
Reserve, Lieutenant Junior Grade, post-war.
Aubrey graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY, in
1944, and served on the US Liberty Ship, the SS Robert Gray. The Robert
Gray was one of the first liberty ships built during WWII. Completed in 1942,
the ship was owned by Waterman Steamship Co. of Mobile, Alabama and was
currently operated by the Army Transportation Service (ATS). The ship had
been armed with one 4in, one 3in and 8 20mm guns, and a US Navy Armed
Guard Crew would be assigned to maintain and operate them.
On April 3, 1943, at the Port of Baltimore, Aubrey George Connors had
signed on as Deck Cadet. From Baltimore, the Robert Gray went to New York
where it was scheduled to meet up with Convoy HX-234. On April 12th, with
a cargo of 8600 tons of 'general war supplies,' which included ammunition, the ship sailed from New York with
the 67-ship Convoy, bound for Scotland and England. One can only imagine the excitement young Cadet
Connors must have felt as the SS Robert Gray sailed out of New York harbor that day.
During the night of April 13/14, Robert Gray had fallen behind the convoy and was reported missing. In the
early hours of the 19th, at approximately 550 miles South of Cape Farewell Greenland, German submarine (U-
boat) 108 surfaced and fired a spread of four torpedoes at the Liberty Ship, two of which detonated. The ship
fired back, causing the sub to dive. A couple hours later two more torpedoes were fired and one hit Robert
Gray's stern, causing ammunition to explode. The ship caught fire and rapidly sank, stern-first.
There were 39 Merchant Mariners and 23 U.S. Naval Armed Guards on board. None survived.
Note: There was, and may still be, some speculation that U-306 was responsible for sinking the Robert Gray on
April 23rd. Both accounts can be found online but the general consensus today is that U-108 was responsible.
Aubrey George Connors was lost at sea and therefore has no grave,
but he is memorialised on his parents’ headstone in the Hillside
Cemetery (also known as the Upper Cemetery), Lincolnville Center,
Waldo Co., Maine, and on his uncle George H Connors’ headstone in
Port Maitland/Beaver River Cemetery, in Port Maitland, Yarmouth
Aubrey George Connors is also recorded at the United States Navy Memorial, in Washington, DC in the US. The
Memorial records of the men and women of the sea services, both US Navy and US Merchant Marine casualties.
In 2020, the US Congress passed the Merchant Mariners of
World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act to recognize the
merchant mariners for their courage and contributions
during the war.