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SS Leopoldville Fallen Remembered

763 US WWII fallen were lost when SS Leopoldville sank on Christmas Eve 1944. 
We are telling the stories of all of them.

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Little known Christmas Eve sinking of SS Leopoldville claimed 763 American lives

The SS Leopoldville, a converted 11.500 ton Belgium passenger ship, left the harbor of Southampton on December 24, 1944, with over 2,000 men of the 66th Infantry Division. Just five miles from its destination of Cherbourg, she was torpedoed by the U-486. HMS Brilliant came alongside to rescue as many soldiers as possible. She was only able to take 500 but when she returned nothing was left. Of the 2,235 souls it was presumed that 515 went down with the ship. Another 248 will die from injuries which include hypothermia. 

 

Many of the men from the 262 Medical Department, on the sinking ship, stayed to care for the wounded instead of being rescued. From the medical group there were only eight survivors which three of them needed to be hospitalized. 19 bodies from the medical detachment were never found.

 

Surviving soldiers of the 66th were ordered not to tell anyone back home about the incident. Their mail was heavily censored and after the war they were told if they mentioned anything their benefits would be cancelled. The documents about the attack remained classified until 1996.

 

Now volunteers with Stories Behind the Stars are writing the stories of all 763 Americans lost in the sinking.

Read some of these stories here:

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SGT Richard A. Atkinson

Story by Thomas La Padula, New York

A Princeton University graduate from a well-to-to family who worked as a broker. Married the day before he joined the army. Read full story here.

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2LT Donald A Baker

Story by Judith Skillings, Pennsylvania

Married truck driver from Maine with two children.

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SS Leopoldville Army Fallen

More details soon.

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SS Leopoldville Army Fallen

More details soon.

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SS Leopoldville Army Fallen

More details soon.

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SS Leopoldville Army Fallen

More details soon.

All of the HMT Rohna fallen stories can be found on Fold3.

 See here.
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Download the Find A Grave smartphone app to read these stories at gravesites

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Thanks to our
volunteer story writers

Jack Chisum, Arizona
Project Director 

Norene Allen, Kansas

Anita Ashworth, Alabama

John Avis, New Jersey

Kate Baker, New Jersey

Pam Baker, Alabama

Janne Boone, Florida

Thomas Bowers, Virginia

Steve Brannan, Alabama

Molly Brown, Utah

Randy Buelens, Ohio

Anna Cross, Minnesota

Brianne Ellison, Utah

Bob Fuerst, Alabama

Tom Gorham, Louisiana

Susan Gould, Tennessee

Mary Hanjes, Georgia

Kim Hardaway, Tennessee

Kathy Harmon, Pennsylvania

John Haskins, Texas

Debra Holley, Utah

Tom La Padula, New York

Kevin McIntire, California

John Mier, Illinois

Don Milne, Kentucky

Chris Moyer, Pennsylvania

Red Mulvanny, California

Kimberly Nichols, Washington

Doria Owen, Maryland

Mary Peterson, Minnesota

John Shlatter, Utah

Elizabeth Shaw, South Carolina

Linda Simpson, Oklahoma

Judith Skillings, Pennsylvania

Donna Snell, Alabama

John Turanin, California

Donna Wheelehan, California

Charles Woodall, Alabama

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