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Remembering World War II
Kenneth Bernard Henderson
Name: Kenneth Bernard Henderson Rank/Rate: Fireman Service: SS Ohioan (Canadian Merchant Navy) Date of Birth: December 5, 1909 Place of Birth: Stormont, Guysborough Co., NS Martial Status: Single Religion: Baptist Height: 5 Feet, 9 Inches Complexion: Ruddy Eye Colour: Blue Hair Colour: Brown Date of Death: May 8, 1942 Age at Death: 32 Memorial: Halifax Memorial, NS Commemorated on Page 155 of the Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on March 29, August 26, and November 1 Kenneth Bernard Henderson was the son of William Robert Henderson (b. 1875) and Margaret (Meehan) Henderson (1877-1918) of Spencer's Island, NS. He was the brother of James Hugh Henderson (1902- 1946) and Kathleen Jessie Henderson (b. 1905). Kenneth followed in the tradition of the family, his grandfather, father, and older brother, serving in the Merchant Navy. In 1934, Kenneth was serving as a wiper on the passenger liner SS President Cleveland. By 1940, Kenneth had become a naturalized US citizen and was living in San Francisco, California when he completed the WWII US Draft Registration. In 1942 he was serving as a Fireman on the SS Ohioan. On May 2, 1942 the unescorted and unarmed SS Ohioan departed San Juan, Puerto Rico, en route to Philadelphia, PA with a cargo of 6,000 tons of manganese ore, 300 tons of wool, and 1300 tons of licorice root. The ships compliment was eight officers and twenty-nine crews members. Prior to San Juan, Puerto Rico the SS Ohioan sailed from Bombay, India via South Africa. At approximately 6:12 pm on May 8, 1942, the SS Ohioan was torpedoed by U-564 about 10 miles off Boynton Beach, Florida. At the time of the attack the ship was steaming on a non-evasive course at 14.5 knots. One torpedo struck on the starboard side at the No 4 hold and caused the ship to sink by the stern within three minutes, rolling over from starboard to port. Attempts were made to launch two lifeboats; however, one was swamped and the second failed to float. The suction of the sinking ship caused the majority of the casualties, one officer and 14 crewmen, including Kenneth Henderson. The survivors rescued themselves on six rafts that had floated free and were rescued by the US Coast Guard.
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