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Remembering World War II
Name: Robert Walter Hart Rank: Captain (Master) Service Number: Z200468 Service: SS San Jacinto, US Merchant Navy Awards: Mariners Medal, Victory Medal Date of Birth: February 15, 1879 Place of Birth: Main-a-Dieu, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Address at Enlistment: Rutherford, Bergen County, New Jersey Height: 5 feet, 8 inches Complexion: Dark Hair Color: Brown Eye Color: Grey Occupation: Seaman Marital Status: Married Religion: Roman Catholic Next of Kin: Lydia E. Hart Date of Death: April 22, 1942 Age: 63 Cemetery/Memorial: Lost at sea (US Navy Memorial to the Sea Services) Robert Walter Hart was born in Nova Scotia. His Social Security forms confirm his date of birth was February 15, 1879. Multiple sources include different years of birth. Robert found his way to the United States is adulthood, working as a seaman out of New York and New Jersey. He obtained his Master’s Licence on December 27, 1915, in Brooklyn, NY. He subsequently served as Master of the SS Norfolk. In 1915, Robert and his wife Lydia E. Hart lived on Danforth Ave in Jersey City, New Jersey. When he registered for the US Draft (1917-1918) on September 9, 1918, he was employed and serving as captain of the SS Mohican. In 1922, he was serving on the Algonquin; from 1922 to 1928, the Huron. Robert served as Master of multiple other vessels throughout his seafaring career. As early as 1930, and into the 1940’s, Robert and Lydia lived at Beckwith Place in Rutherford, Bergen County, NJ. He is listed as a steamship Captain in the 1940 census and is listed on multiple records of passages of the SS San Jacinto in between August 1934 and April 13, 1942, as Master, or Captain, of the ship. The SS San Jacinto was an American cargo steamer of 6,069 tons built in 1903 by Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA and owned by Agwilines Inc, New York, operated by New York & Puerto Rican Steamship Co. While en route from New York for San Juan, Puerto Rico, and carrying passengers and 3,200 tons of general cargo, the San Jacinto was torpedoed by U-210 and sunk by gunfire on April 22, 1942. Nine passengers were killed and 95 survived and were rescued with 74 officers and crew; five were lost. In addition to Captain Hart, the following four crew were lost. Fearful of using their transmitters while enemy U-boats might still be present, the one of the 3 surviving radio operators stoked up the emergency transmitter at 7:30 am and sent out an SOS with the details of the ships’ sinking and position. Fortunately for all concerned the US Navy destroyer USS Rowan (DD 405) was in the vicinity and able to retrieve them the same day. 2 days later, they were landed at Norfolk, Virginia. Lost at sea, Captain Robert Walter Hart has no known grave and is not listed by name on any memorial. US Merchant Navy casualties of WWII do not have a memorial where they are remembered by name. Rather, they are remembered collectively at three memorial sites: The American Merchant Mariners' Memorial at the Battery Park Esplanade in New York serves as a remembrance for all of America’s merchant sailors resting in unmarked ocean depths. The Navy – Merchant Marine Memorial, located in Lady Bird Johnson Park on Columbia Island in Washington, DC, is a monument honoring all sailors of the United States Navy, Coast Guard, the United States Merchant Marine, the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, and others who died at sea during World War I and other times And lastly, the US Navy Memorial is located at the Memorial Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. It includes the largest map in the world, known as the “Granite Sea.” It is home to the iconic Lone Sailor statue, towering masts with signal flags, fountain pools, and 26 bronze sculptures depicting Navy history. It honours the sacrifice of US Sea Services which include the US Coast Guard, US Navy, and the US Merchant Navy.
Robert Walter Hart
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