Life is a Montage

associations of disparate elements meld together to form my life

Memorial Day – Thinking about a Cousin I Never Met

on May 29, 2011

William Clayton Beaty

Cousin Billy Beaty – Merchant Marine seaman killed in WWII

Billy was the son of one of my mother’s sisters – Edith, who had passed away before his death.

Billy joined the Merchant Marines in WWII and was lost at sea when his ship was destroyed by a German U-boat. He was only 21 years old. According to a WWII information website ( ),  Billy was an Ordinary Seamen on the Edward B. Dudley, a Liberty class merchant ship.

He was killed months before I was born, but I heard loving stories about him as I grew up, and knew that if I had been able to meet him, I would have adored him just as much as I do now. He was much loved by my mom, his brother Orren, and sister Mary Margaret. They’re all gone now.

…from — On 4 Apr, 1943, the Edward B. Dudley (Master Gibson Douglas Hillary) left New York in convoy HX-232. Later the ship straggled from the convoy perhaps due to bent propeller blades and was never heard from again. None of the eight officers, 34 men and 27 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in and nine 20mm guns) on board were ever found. At 14.30 hours on 10 April, U-615 fired a spread of four torpedoes on a single ship, but only one torpedo hit which failed to explode. She followed the vessel, which was now steaming a zigzag course and the next day at 04.46 hours fired two torpedoes which hit amidships and stopped the vessel. 20 minutes later another torpedo was fired from 1000 meters that struck at the stern and ignited the after magazine, but the ship still remained afloat. At 05.16 hours a coup de grace was fired from 800 meters that struck under the bridge. The cargo of munition was ignited and the ship disintegrated. Debris slightly damaged the conning tower of the U-boat and wounded Kapitzky, forcing U-615 to abort her patrol and return to port. The launching of many lifeboats was observed before the ship exploded. The victim must have been the Edward B. Dudley.(latitude 53 deg N, longitude 39 deg W)


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